Friday, October 19, 2012

Pokemon Regionals 2012

I have a confession to make: I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Failing at that, though, I'm satisfied with being moderately good as long as I have a good time. Nowhere else was that more true than at the Pokemon Regionals, held in San Jose. The winners would find themselves with a free pass to the Nationals, while those who don't make the cut would leave with memories, hopefully pleasant ones.
I arrived at 8 AM, when it was due to open, which meant waking up earlier than I'd have liked. That would have been fine if they let us in at 8, as the website said, but instead we spent a good half hour standing around in a semi-line outside. Still, they let us in eventually, and everyone checked in quickly.

Well, almost everyone. Once we showed them we had pre-registered and had Pokemon in our Battle Boxes for the competition, we were sent to a table filled with people who would register our games in the tournament. Not all of them were entirely trained in how to do that, as three people behind me in line got their games registered while the guy registering mine was trying to figure out what buttons to press. Still, he eventually got me checked in, leaving time to meet up with friends and look at the goods available.

I was in cosplay, like I was last time, as Giovanni. There were only a few other cosplayers there; a few trainers, a child in a Pikachu suit, and a friend of mine as a gijinka Flaaffy. I was pleased to see several people in Team Rocket shirts, although they were no minions of mine - another group that was volunteering and working as vendors at the tournament used the TR monicker as well, but I spoke with some of them and mentioned my Team Rocket group, plus bought a TR t-shirt.

After getting breakfast (which required running around to find an ATM that wasn't out of order), I awaited the start of the tournament. It was divided into three divisions: Junior, Seniors, and Masters. Being above 18, I was in the Master's division, which also had the most participants by far. Yes, Pokemon is for all ages, and the older you get, the tougher the competition becomes.

Unlike the last one I was at, which was single elimination, this tournament was swiss-style, which meant everyone got a few battles in, and winners are determined based on each individual's win-lose ratio and that of those they fought. That meant everyone would have seven battles, win or lose.

My first battle, unfortunately, I lost to a trick room team. My team relies mostly on sweepers, and I failed to calculate his strategy to prepare countermeasures. My defeat was pretty quick. The next battle was a lot closer, but once again, I was trick-roomed; this time I prepared countermeasures, but it wore off right when I needed it. Luck is a part of the game, after all.

The next three matches went much better. My Volcarona proved an effective sweeper in the third match, followed by a combination of Zapdos and Krookodile taking down my opponent's teams. The last two, though, luck was not on my side; one battle had my Pokemon constantly flinching or being frozen, and the last was a very close match, but my Krookodile's Rock Slide didn't do quite enough damage.

As such, I ended the day with 3 wins to 4 losses. Honestly, it's about as good as I thought I'd do, although I certainly wouldn't have minded one more win. Regardless of the score, I had fun.

The top four players; these are the guys who will be representing us in the Nationals
And while I may not have made it to the finals, a friend of mine did. He made it to the final round, where he barely lost in the last battle, securing a second place ranking and a trip to the Nationals. You can see my interview with him and the first-place winner below.

I also left the tournament with a good deal more than I came with. Aside from the Team Rocket shirt and dog tag I bought, my table was randomly awarded a free card binder. Other people there also tended to leave unwanted Pokemon cards for anyone to take, so I managed to get enough to start on a deck (minus those I traded to another attendee for a soda). But most of all, I left with a great experience.

One thing I liked about this tournament was the atmosphere. Pretty much everyone there accepted that we were playing a video game targeted at children, so we could lighten up and have fun with it. I spent quite some time talking with people about how it's all in good fun, and we were just happy to be there competing. At the beginning and end of every match, we would shake hands, and either wish each other luck or thank each other for a good battle. Win or lose, we all had fun, and that's what we were there for. (Not that anyone would have minded winning, of course.)

As such, while I may not be the greatest trainer, I still had a good time, and still came home with good memories and a few new things. I learned from a few mistakes to prepare for next time, so I hope to do even better the next time I compete.

Some of my friends and I after the tournament

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